Department

Organization Development

Date of Paper/Work

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organization Development (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work

Dissertation

Advisors

John Conbere, Alla Heorhiadi, James Brown

Abstract

Diversity discourse has revolved around the business case argument for having a heterogeneous workforce. As the argument goes, an organization with a diverse workforce performs better than one with homogenous employees. While the advantages of task-relevant diversity – education, experience, and functional expertise – is not being disputed, the link between bio-demographic diversity – race, ethnicity, culture, and gender – and superior group performance could not be consistently supported. This case study of a multi-national humanitarian organization demonstrates a situation in which bio-demographic diversity was employed to accomplish a specific business objective of gaining entry to new markets. However, the efficacy of such business tactics was very much dependent on the operational context. Moreover, such pragmatic or utilitarian use of diversity raises moral and ethical questions when applied in the American context. A utilitarian view of diversity assumes that there are bio-demographic characteristics that are task-relevant – a dubious assumption that flies in the face of American values of justice and fairness. This type of discourse treats diversity as a phenomenon external to the organization that needs to be controlled and managed – "managing diversity." I argue that attempts to establish a link between bio-demographic diversity and superior group performance is rather pointless. Diversity is a fundamental characteristic of nature. Just as bio-diversity contributes to a stable ecosystem, the same principle applies to our social world. Hence, diversity is neither a constraint to be managed, nor an issue to be solved. It is a natural condition of a world we live in. It is when we are able to adapt to and match our increasingly diverse environment that we are able to thrive – the real business case of diversity.

Keywords

diversity, diversity management, business case for diversity, diversity and affirmative action

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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